Tips for Coping During a Time of Tragedy

1. Honor your feelings. Following a tragedy, it is quite common to experience a range of emotions, such as anger, fear, and sadness. These feelings are normal and do not mean that you are weak or that there is something wrong with you. Also, keep in mind that these events can trigger unresolved traumas and loss from your past. The range of emotions that you are feeling following the event will lessen over time. If you are feeling overwhelmed or finding that you are unable to perform your daily routine, you may want to consider talking with a therapist to process your feelings.  

2. Take good care of yourself. Engaging in self-care is always a good idea, but it becomes crucial following these events when we are left feeling off balance. Try using healthy activities like exercising, mediation, reading, yoga, or listening to music. 

3. Talk to others. When we feel overwhelmed with difficult emotions, it can be tempting to isolate, but this may worsen our feelings. Share your thoughts and concerns with supportive people in your life. 

4. Limit media exposure. We want to stay informed, so we tune into the news and read articles online, often overloading ourselves with difficult images and stories. Research has found that viewing violent news events can cause people to experience post-traumatic symptoms. Be careful to limit your media exposure, take breaks and be sure do things that you enjoy during break times.     

5. Strive to find a balance. When a tragedy occurs, it is common to feel discouraged and hopeless. Difficult details and images are what stand out and become in the forefront of our minds. Mr. Rogers is known for saying, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’’ This is helpful for children and adults alike. Often during these times, we are reminded of the good in humanity and the strength of the human spirit. 

6. Find ways to help. Taking action in a positive way can help reduce our feelings of helplessness that follow these events. Find ways to help people who have been affected by the tragedy, including donating blood, money, or items, as well as finding opportunities to volunteer.